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The Truth About Self-Consciousness & Likeability

Published 9/21/2018

Doing good work breaks down when you can't realize your own self-worth. In today's episode, we're talking about decision making. accepting that we'll make mistakes and the ability to take action in the face of uncertainty.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
If you've been feeling a little bit self-conscious recently, and particularly self-conscious about your relationships, either at work or in your personal life, today's episode is for you, just a little bit of encouragement. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal in this show is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose and do the better works they can have a positive influence on the people around them. And the first thing that you have to understand about doing good work is that it starts with yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, if you can't see yourself through a positive lens, then you're going to have a hard time understanding how to do good work. And it breaks down quite simply because usually if you're focused on yourself and more specifically on your own shortcomings, in particular to an unhealthy degree where you can't see the positive, then you end up doing poor work. And how does that actually happen? Well, you end up being hindered from making decisions confidently. And confidence, of course, is incredibly important to progress, to being able to make a decision and perhaps even more important for making decisions and being able to dissect those decisions. You know, one of the most important things you can recognize as a developer is that you will make mistakes. Hopefully, you already know this. And if you don't, it will soon become painfully clear that you will make mistakes. And the number of mistakes that you make is not really directly equated to how good of a developer you are. And in fact, the best developers have made the most mistakes. And that's not because the best developers are somehow worse than the other ones, counter intuitively or something like that. No, it's because the best developers understand that action in the face of uncertainty is much better than inaction for fear of uncertainty. This is so important to grasp. And so what you have to be able to understand, to become a developer of action, you start with yourself. Look in the mirror. Now, this isn't about, you know, becoming your best self. This is about having confidence. And this isn't just blind confidence either. And that's why I wanted to do today's episode. This is actually reasonable confidence, a good reason to believe in yourself. I want to make sure that we're focused here on fact and not just making people feel good. And then you turn around and that all gets deflated, right? So there have been two studies that have come out recently and they're backed by previous research as well. Let's say two basic things. And I'm going to give you the takeaway rather than diving into those studies. The first study says that people actually like you better than you think they do. Specifically, with relation to your first impression, you are much more likely to be likeable than you expect. Of course, we have to take into account in this study that there is a possibility for bias because the people who are asked whether they liked the person that they just met or not, they could be afraid of answering with negative response. But it's important to note that we judge ourselves more harshly when asked than others do. And this is important for a couple of reasons. One, it's easy to hold yourself to a different standard than you hold other people. It's easy to know you're on faults and to know your own, for example, quirks that you think might frustrate or annoy another person because we haven't accepted those things for ourselves. Perhaps we are uncomfortable because someone has been frustrated with us before in that particular area or because we're self-conscious. For whatever reason, we tend to judge ourselves harshly while others don't judge us as harshly when it comes to first impressions. I want to make a clear distinction here. This is very different from the cognitive bias of being overconfident in ourselves. This is quite different. Instead, we're talking about more of a social likeability than we are being right about something. So, that's the first thing. People are more likely to like you in your first impression than you expect them to. And the second encouragement that I have for you today that came out of a recent study is that people's perspectives, specifically their negative beliefs, are less stable than their positive beliefs about other people. What does this mean? Well, essentially, it means that if you have accidentally made a mistake and you feel like a bridge has been burnt, we actually are predisposed to be ready to forgive. This is maybe a little bit of a leap, but we are at least predisposed to re-adjust our beliefs about another person back towards a positive belief. The positive beliefs are more stable. This means that if a person has a temporary negative belief about you, eventually it is very likely that that negative belief will be replaced by a positive belief. So if you are like many other developers and you feel like you've burnt some kind of bridge, or maybe you feel like you came across as incompetent in a meeting three weeks ago, it's very likely that those encounters are going to be replaced with positive encounters in the minds of the people that you interact with. And so all of this research, why am I bringing this up? Essentially, I'm bringing it up to remind you that usually when you're encountering other people, when you're working with other people, your co-workers, they're going to have a better outlook on you than you expect them to. Of course, that's on average. If you're a jerk all the time, then you can't expect your co-workers to just follow this, you know, the same curve, these studies don't show that jerks get good treatment or that they're viewed positively. That's not the point of the study. Instead, the point of me bringing this up is to help kind of establish a sense of confidence that if you are a beginner, for example, that even though it may feel like all everybody's eyes are on you, you're much more likely to be more conscious, more self-conscious than other people are conscious of your behaviors. So, hopefully what this will result in is some of that anxiety coming down. For example, when you're a pair of coating, perhaps instead of being too afraid of the other person, you know, seeing the co-workers writing and judging you, you can connect with them as a human and remind yourself that they probably have a positive outlook on you. It's incredibly easy to allow our self-consciousness, our fears, our social anxieties to take over the way that we think about our work. And for some people, this struggle is real and it's different than it is for others. In fact, it's unique for all of us, but for some people, this is something that you can't just get rid of it by listening to an episode of this podcast. And so by no means are we saying that this is easy, but instead we're trying to present some picture of reality. And if we can ground ourselves in that reality that most people generally are going to have a good outlook on us. If we can ground ourselves in that reality, then perhaps that gives us a better perspective and our day-to-day work. So I want to encourage you to do two things. Number one, to recognize the qualities that other people appreciate about you. This may feel a little bit self-serving, but it's worth doing every once in a while to understand the things that are actually good about your personality, about your contributions. How do other people see you? What are the good traits that they see in you? The second thing that I want you to do, and this is perhaps just as important, is tell another person what you appreciate about them. This doesn't have to come across as awkward or overly complimentary. Don't make people think that this is disingenuous, but instead find a way to express appreciation for another person. Even better if you can do more than one, someone in your work life and someone in your personal life, for example. And this expression of appreciation can go a long way, not only for your relationship, but for them, for their own perception. And we're all kind of stuck in our own self-perception, our own self-consciousness, and all of the fears that you have about yourself. Someone else has similar fears about themselves. So I encourage you to, again, going back to the purpose of the show to do better work so that you can have a positive influence on the people around you. And if you can have a positive influence on the people around you by just simply sharing what you appreciate about them, then the show has done its job. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I hope that you are encouraged and that you will pass on that encouragement today. Of course, the show does not exist just to pat everybody on the back, but instead to remind us of our humanity. Remind us that we are vulnerable creatures and that we can easily skew our own perceptions in ways that may be harmful to others, but also in ways that may be harmful to ourselves. Thank you again for listening. If you haven't subscribed in whatever pie-gassing app you're using right now, encourage you to go and press that subscribe button. This is the best way to stay up to date with Developer Tea. And I'd really love to read some more reviews from listeners of the show. This does two things. Number one, it gives me legitimate feedback so we can continue to make Developer Teaore relevant, make the show's format, more a higher serving format for you. But the second purpose that this serves is to help other developers find Developer Tea and, once they read the review, decide if they want to listen as well. So I encourage you to go and leave a review. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.